If you know someone who has died and they used Facebook, chances are, you're already familiar with what happened to their account.
In recent years, accounts that would otherwise remain inactive, have become effective memorial profiles, allowing people to comment and post on a deceased user's timeline. Now, Facebook has announced its plan to roll out a new feature that will essentially enable people to write messages to their departed loved ones in a Tributes section, separately from a profile's timeline.
When an account is memorialized, no one but pre-designated "legacy contacts" can manage it, though they can't log in. If a post from a user is shared the day after an account is memorialized, the post is placed in the Tributes section. The feature's help page says "we do our best to separate tribute posts from timeline posts based on the info we're given.
Depending on a memorialized account's privacy settings, friends can currently still post on a profile's timeline, including in the comments of posts the person made before dying. Some users have been alerted of the new feature by a notification reading "if your account is memorialized," which — we don't mean to be insensitive — reads like a call from the grave.
Legacy contacts will also apparently have more oversight of tribute posts than they over the rest of the account, but don't have the ability to log into accounts of the deceased, read private messages, or remove and add friends. They can decide who can see and post tributes, and they can also delete posts. They can also adjust the settings of who sees posts the deceased person is tagged in, or remove the tag altogether. If the account previously had timeline review turned on, the legacy contact will be able to turn it off for tribute posts to be visible.
A page on Facebook's Help Center describes the new Tributes feature as "as a space on memorialized profiles where friends and family can post stories, commemorate a birthday, share memories and more."
While it might be odd to some for Facebook to insist on engagement even past death, perhaps an active Tributes section in a memorialized profile does the same for a dead person's loved ones that gifts and condolences might also achieve: comfort them.